Price: $310.00

    Code: 2398

    Directed by Daniel Birman
    2010, 52 Minutes
    Purchase: $310 | Classroom Rental: $125

    What role should genetics and upbringing play in the legal defense of a minor on trial for murder? This engrossing documentary explores this question by following the controversial case of Cyntoia Brown, a 16-year-old girl forced into prostitution, who faces life without parole for killing one of her clients.

    Put up for adoption by her alcoholic and drug addicted teenaged mother, Cyntoia had many caretakers when she was a child. Finally adopted into a family with a loving mother but abusive father, she ran away from home to live with her drug addict boyfriend who forces her to turn tricks for drug money on Murfreesboro Road in Nashville, TN.

    On the night of August 6, 2004, Cyntoia was picked up by a 43-year-old man, went back to his house and, claiming she feared for her life, shot and killed him.

    Filmed over the course of six years, with the permission of Nashville's justice system, the film features interviews with Cyntoia, her family, doctors, psychologists, lawyers, and others involved in her case including nationally renowned juvenile forensic psychiatrist, Dr. William Bernet from Vanderbilt University. Dan Birman's heartbreaking documentary doesn't make an attempt to accuse or excuse, but simply to follow the case and find some answers about the history of violence and its causes.

    According to the latest census, tens of thousands of juveniles are imprisoned, and more than two thousand of them are in there for life without parole. Robbed of their childhoods, their youth, and eventually robbed of their lives, many of these kids have disturbing histories but none of them have any future. The question is then, who is to blame?

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Official Selection of PBS Independent Lens, 2011
    * Official Selection of ITVS Community Cinema Program, 2011
    * Winner, Silver Telly, 32nd Annual Telly Awards


    "A heart-wrenching documentary. Captures the drama of Brown’s case and a seemingly misguided justice system… providing insight into one of thousands of cases involving juveniles imprisoned for life." –Booklist

    "Family service and juvenile justice advocates will find this film useful for the clarity with which it demonstrates what happens when nature and environment conspire against the well-being of children". - Library Journal